DUI- Blood Required Without Probable Cause?
- March 30, 2013
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The New Jersey Assembly and Senate have proposed an amendment to the Driving Under the Influence Statute requiring a breath or blood sample be obtained at any time a person “operating a motor vehicle is involved in an accident resulting in the death or serious bodily injury of another person.” If passed, this will allow a breath or blood sample to be taken even if there is no probable cause or reasonable suspicion to believe the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The requirements of probable cause and reasonable suspicion were established to protect the constitutional rights of the people from unreasonable search and seizure, which is exactly what this legislation would allow. In a statement as to the intent or purpose of the legislation, the Senate set forth in its statement regarding S-359, that the bill would “require police officers to obtain a breath or blood sample” in the event there is an accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury to another.” Often, the severity of injuries from a motor vehicle accident is unknown until days or weeks after the accident. Alcohol will not, and drugs may not, remain in a person’s system for as long as it takes to determine the seriousness of harm suffered from the accident. This is a slippery slope which will give rise to the “need” for taking of breath or blood samples from each and every individual involved in a motor vehicle accident with the stipulation that, if serious bodily injury does not occur the results will be suppressed. Following will be the issue that, even in the event there is not serious bodily injury, the State now has conclusive evidence that a defendant operated a motor vehicle on a public road in violation of the New Jersey Driving While Intoxicated statute, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, which is a per se violation, whether there was a motor vehicle accident or not, and will lead to prosecution of defendants without the required showings of probable cause or reasonable suspicion every time a driver is involved in an accident and found to have any controlled dangerous substances (CDS) or a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater. The Assembly, in A-1225, has included a certain level of protection by adding that “a person operating a motor vehicle involved in the accident who the investigating police officer concludes has not contributed to the accident whatsoever shall not be required to submit a breath or blood sample.” Much like the time period required to determine whether serious bodily injury resulted from an accident, accident investigations often take time and will again give police the “need” to take blood or breath samples immediately so as not to lose potential evidence. DUI/DWI in NJ will have a serious impact on your life and can have significant implications in related matters such later personal injury or vehicular manslaughter charges. If you are charged with DUI in NJ you should seek an experienced attorney immediately to protect your rights. For more information on Driving While Intoxicated, reckless driving or other serious municipal court/traffic matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney regarding your specific matter.